We both love pasta and very often the simplest dishes are the best. Spaghetti with tomato sauce, which we cooked today, is one such example. Fresh basil leaves, cracked black pepper and a few shavings of Parmesan are all that’s required to finish to perfection!
We love some form of crusty bread served on the side of our pasta dishes.
Justin spotted a delicious looking tear and share garlic bread on one of his recent Pinterest browsing tea breaks.
The method was quick and easy – and the results delicious.
It’s a very flexible recipe in terms of potential ingredients. Ours was flavoured predominantly with garlic & oregano, but many other herbs such as parsley, rosemary or chives could also be used. Olives, sun-dried tomatoes or small cubes of cheese would also be perfect additions.
The perfect bread to wipe that plate clean! Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest.
- 120ml/4¼ fl oz warm water
- 1tbsp caster sugar
- 1tsp active dry yeast
- 15g/4½oz butter, softened
- 120ml/4¼ fl oz milk
- 1tsp salt
- 400g/14oz bread flour
- 60g/2oz butter, melted
- 1tbsp fresh oregano or ½tsp dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1tsp coarse salt
- In a small measuring jug, stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water until dissolved. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, quickly mix the salt and flour using your fingers
- Make a well in the centre and add the butter, milk and yeast mixture
- Using the dough hook, knead for 7-10 minutes. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but clears sides. It will be soft and slightly sticky. Kneading can also be done by hand but will take around 10-12 minutes
- In a small bowl, combine the butter, oregano and minced garlic. Set aside
- Cut the dough into equal pieces and roll into balls **I made twelve 57g balls**
- Dip the balls, one by one, into the garlic butter mixture (make sure you leave a little aside)
- Lay the buttery dough balls into a greased 20cm x 10cm (8" x 4") loaf tin **I used 2 smaller tins**
- Cover the loaf and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size - about an hour
- After around 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
- Brush the tops lightly with more of the garlic butter (still making sure a little is left)
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown
- Brush with the last of the garlic butter to glaze, sprinkle with the coarse salt and serve immediately
- Instead of oregano, you could use basil, parsley or rosemary
- You could also add a few halved olives, chopped sun-dried tomatoes or small cubes of cheese to the dough
As with many of you out there, there’s been severe lurgy in the H is for Home household this week. Well to be honest, we’ve contracted a succession of bugs stretching back 2 months at least – one after another, sometimes overlapping. And that’s after not having had a sniff of a cold for the previous 5 years. It’s certainly been quite a grim winter. When you’re feeling under the weather, any baking has to be quick and easy. These honey almond brittle biscuits seemed like the perfect answer today.
The preparation was literally a ten minute job – and they then less than ten minutes to bake. A small price to pay for some delicious home-baked biscuits.
And they were indeed delicious. The almonds and honey were a very good combination. There are lots of other potential ingredients to experiment with – peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans and coconut to name but a few. The biscuits were a lovely blend of soft gooey centres and crisp, crunchy edges. A little treat is always nice when your feeling sorry for yourself !
- 15g/½oz butter
- 15g/½oz double cream
- 75g/2⅔oz honey
- 35g/1oz caster sugar
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ½tsp lemon juice
- 25g/⅗oz plain flour
- 100g/3½oz flaked almonds
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a low heat
- Stir in the cream, honey, sugar, salt, lemon juice and flour, until combined
- Add the almonds and stir to combine
- Spoon teaspoonfuls of the mix on to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Give each one lots of room as they spread out quite a bit while cooking
- Flatten slightly with the back of a wet spoon
- Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 for seven minutes
- Cool on a wire rack before eating
I’ve made a few ginger cakes before, however, this ginger stout loaf is probably the most moist, treacly, dark and delicious of them all!
I’ve had a couple of bottles of Hatherwood Purple Panther porter in the fridge since before Christmas. I’ve not tried them yet, we’re having a Dry January… does cooking with alcohol count as breaking the fast? I’ve only used about a quarter of the bottle, so I’m wondering how to use the leftovers… baking-wise. I’ve used it in the past in chocolate cake and bread, so perhaps something different this time. What do you recommend?
I’ve halved the original recipe, which is a Bundt cake that serves 12. It called for 3 large eggs. How do you halve 3 eggs? Well, I whisked up the 3 eggs and poured half of the mixture into the batter. I used the other half in a frittata for lunch… waste not, want not!
We’ve had lots of cold, damp, misty, murky weather of late. This rich, warming cake – served alongside a nice strong cup of tea – or with some piping hot custard – is the perfect antidote.
- 120ml/8 fl oz stout/porter
- 6tbsp molasses
- 3tbsp ginger in syrup, chopped finely
- 2 medium-sized eggs, at room temperature
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 100g/½ Muscovado sugar
- 100g/3½ Demerara sugar
- 100ml/3½ fl oz vegetable oil
- 125g/4½oz plain flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½tbsp ground ginger
- ½tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Heat oven to 175ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4
- Grease & line a 1kg/2lb loaf tin with parchment paper
- Pour the stout and molasses into a medium-sized saucepan, bring to a simmer, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat, set aside and allow to cool
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped ginger, eggs, vanilla extract, Muscovado sugar and Demerara sugar until the mixture is no longer gritty
- Slowly add the oil, mixing all the while
- Slowly add the stout mixture and mix until well combined
- Carefully add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing well in between each addition.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
- Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack
- Serve warm with custard or allow to cool completely before topping with cream cheese icing
We’ve been having a busy first few days of 2018. I’ve been a bit tardy again this year with preparing & filing our tax returns so I wanted this week’s Cakes & Bakes to be quick and simple. This prune tea loaf is just the ticket!
Armagnac is the perfect pairing for prunes. However, if you prefer, you can swap this out for an equal quantity of freshly-brewed, strong black tea.
Serve warm, cut into thick slices, buttered generously accompanied by a cup of tea. After my little break, it’s back to doing the accounts!
- 200g/7oz prunes (Agen ones are best)
- 2-4 tbsp Armagnac
- 2 eggs
- 100g/3½oz brown soft sugar
- 250g/9oz self raising flour
- 75ml/2⅔fl oz milk
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3
- Grease & line a 900g/2lb loaf tin
- De-stone and roughly chop the prunes and put them into a medium-sized mixing bowl
- Pour the Armagnac over the prunes - it should just about cover all the fruit
- Cover with cling flim/Saran wrap for about half an hour to allow the fruit to absorb the liquid
- In a measuring jug, lightly beat the eggs before adding them to the soaked prunes and any un-absorbed liquid
- Add the sugar and flour and combine well
- Mix in the milk to loosen the batter
- Spoon evenly into the lined loaf tin and sprinkle a little granulated sugar evenly over the top
- Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean
- Leave the loaf in its tin to cool for 5 minutes before turning it out on to a wire rack
- The loaf will keep for a couple of weeks (if it lasts that long!) if wrapped in baking parchment and kept in an airtight container in a cool place
Baked cheesecake is both Justin’s and my favourite kind of cake. I often make it for special occasions such as when we’re having people over to visit. The last time friends came to stay, I made a New York maple-walnut cheesecake. It was such a hit – with us and them – that I’ve been looking forward to making it again and sharing the recipe on here.
I found the recipe on the New York Times website. It’s pretty similar to the one I make using a Gordon Ramsay recipe, with one… or should I say two great additions. Including maple syrup in cheesecake is delicious; Tossing and coating walnuts in hot maple syrup and then sprinkling them over the top is candied heaven on earth!
I made a few little adjustments to the NYT’s original New York maple-walnut cheesecake recipe. For a start, I cut down on the quantities; much as I love cheesecake, 12 portions is too much for just the two of us. I also swapped the Graham cracker base for the more usual British version of digestive biscuit crumbs. Lastly, I doubled the amount of maple syrup in the actual cheesecake mixture as I thought the flavour was a little too subtle.
Also, the original method included an initial hot bake at 260ºC/500ºF for 15 minutes. This, I think, is to give the top of the cake a nice golden brown colour. It would have completely burnt my first attempt if I hadn’t been keeping an eye on it. This time around, I lowered the temperature and duration of this stage… it turned out perfectly!
The walnuts can be substituted for other nuts, I’d think that pecans or Brazil nuts – or both – would be wonderful.
- 200g/7oz digestive biscuits (about 14 biscuits)
- 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, melted
- 600g/21oz cream cheese
- 2tsp cornflour
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- 120ml/4fl oz maple syrup
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 60ml/2fl oz double cream
- 60ml/2fl oz maple syrup
- 1tsp cornflour
- 115g/4oz walnut halves
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4
- In a bowl, grind the digestive biscuits to fine crumbs (I use the end of a rolling pin)
- Add the melted butter to the bowl and toss with a fork until the butter has moistened the crumb mixture
- Grease the sides of a 23cm/9-inch, spring-form cake tin and scatter the crumbs evenly over the pan bottom, pressing it down using the bottom of a straight-sided glass or back of a spoon
- Bake for 10 minutes and allow it to cool
- Raise the oven temperature to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
- With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy (about 2 minutes)
- Combine the flour and the sugar and add this mixture and half of the maple syrup to the cheese in thirds, mixing after each addition
- Add the eggs and the yolk to the mixture, one by one, beating after each addition
- Add the heavy cream and mix again
- Pour the batter on to the cooled base and bake for 5 minutes
- Lower the oven to 90ºC/200ºF/Gas mark ½ and bake for a further hour
- Switch off the oven, leave the door ajar and allow the cheesecake cool in the oven for ½ hour
- Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours but no more than 24
- In a small saucepan, heat the remaining maple syrup over a low heat until it bubbles. Allow to simmer gently for 1 minute until it has thickened slightly
- Whisk in the cornstarch and turn off the heat
- Add the walnuts and turn to coat
- Spread them out on a piece of parchment paper to cool and harden into praline
- Sprinkle over the cheesecake
Someone over on our Instagram feed asked when I was going to share the recipe for the 24-hour sourdough loaf that I’d photographed. I forgot that I’d never actually blogged about it, so here it is!
It’s my new favourite sourdough bread recipe because it helps me plan my baking time to a tee. No more hanging around at bedtime for my bread to be ready to take out of the oven. You start at “zero hour” with a refresh of the starter and end with taking it out of the oven.
The 24 hour duration is a fairly loose timing. You can stretch or shorten the time line to suit by warming or cooling the environment of the starter and the rising dough. I like to time it so that my final prove takes place overnight. The recipe suggests refrigerating the dough for this 8-12 hour stage however, our downstairs cloakroom gets really cold at night – and the banneton takes up a lot of space – so I do the rise in there.
It means I can get up in the morning, pre-heat the oven and La Cloche and enjoy lovely, fresh sourdough for breakfast!
Save the recipe to Pinterest for later!
- 585ml/20½fl oz water at 27ºC
- 180g/6⅓oz 1:1 (100% hydrated) fresh sourdough starter that's been refreshed the night before and again in the morning (Hour 0)
- 900g/31¾oz strong white bread flour
- 9g/⅓oz fine sea salt
- a little rice flour for dusting your banneton (I can't recommend this enough!!)
- In a bowl, whisk the warm water and starter and mix well
- Add the flour and salt (combined well) and mix until all the ingredients come together into a large ball
- Cover with cling film and let the dough rest in a cool environment for 1½ hours
- Lift and fold your dough over, do a quarter turn of your bowl and repeat three more times. Repeat hourly 3 more times
- Shape your dough lightly and place into a dusted banneton
- Cover with a shower cap or damp tea-towel and leave to prove on the side until the dough has risen by about 50%. This normally takes about 2 hours in a kitchen that is about 18-20 degrees, then transfer to the fridge for 8-12 hours
- In the morning, preheat the oven to 220ºC for 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are ready to bake with your La Cloche in the oven. The dish or La Cloche must be very hot
- Take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle a little flour over the bottom
- Put your dough into the La Cloche and slash the top of your bread using a grignette (or lame) then place the lid back on top and return to the oven as quickly as possible. Bake for 45 minutes
- Turn the heat down to 190ºC, remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes